It's really easy to tell an adult to go see their dentist or address some stress if they start having trouble with their bite. But people in this situation need an action plan and need to have an idea of what exactly they have to do to make their teeth and mouth feel normal again. Yes, seeing the dentist and addressing stress are two immediate actions, but how exactly do you go about this?
Seeing the Dentist
Until you have a definite grasp of why your teeth feel like they have moved, your first step is always to go to the dentist for:
- A cleaning, if you haven't had one recently
- A visual exam, to see if there are signs of infection or bone loss
- X-rays, to see what's up inside each tooth and if there's damage
- A tooth mold, so your dentist can get a 3-D model of how your teeth are fitting together
- An evaluation for temporomandibular joint syndrome, which can lead to grinding, clenching, and tooth movement
- Possibly a referral to an orthodontist for braces to move teeth back
If the dentist determines that you have TMJ and that your teeth haven't moved that much, you may end up with just a nighttime mouthguard to try wearing. But that depends on your situation. If your teeth have moved to the point where your bite is really off, you need dental work to move the teeth back into place.
This is a tough one because you need to identify if the stress is due to a specific situation or life in general. Stress can make you clench your jaw unconsciously, so even if you don't think you have TMJ, you can have the symptoms that lead to tooth movement.
A specific stressful situation is one you can do something about, even if it seems difficult, like a bad job. But if the stress is chronic and a response to a number of life factors, this is where counseling comes in. It is worth it to explore and discuss what might be underlying the clenching because if you don't take care of this, your teeth can move again and again.
Finding a counselor can take a while, but a good couple of places to start are by asking your regular doctor or contacting your workplace's employee assistance program, if it has one. Always set up a consultation first to see if you like the counselor, and always be aware that you can switch counselors or therapists if you feel like the current one is not helping.
Tooth movement is a problem, but it can be solved. Give a professional like Pacific Ave Dental/Allan L. Hablutzel, DDS a call to learn more.